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Andreas Bolte

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Projektbeschreibung: "Temporal Practices and Imperial Rule in British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, ca. 1900-1940"

The project wants to investigate the relation between temporal practices and imperial rule in early twentieth century Southeast Asia. While a lot of research in the past has been devoted to the broader connections between time and empire, most of it has been focussed mainly on writing and speaking about time. While this has proven fruitful for the investigation into aspects like memory of empire and the logics of temporal constructs like the co-called civilising mission, it often lacks the potential to go beyond purely text-based sources, with all the implications and problems this causes for the inclusion of indigenous and subaltern voices into the research.
To solve this problem, the project is focussed on the doing of time: planning, scheduling and being punctual. Past research on time and empire has often described these practices as European tools of empire, used to rule the supposedly time-less colonies. Here, scholars have echoed the colonisers self-image while underestimating the complexities of both imperial rule and temporal practices. The project is aimed at showing not only that there were no temporal practices exclusive to one social or ethnic group, but also that temporal practices are not always practiced intentionally.
By taking a closer look at four ‘cases’ from British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies (plantations, the transport network, the urban banking system and rural farms) the project wants to find a better way of analysing the crossovers of time and empire, and to further our understanding not only of the temporality of empire, but also of the imperiality of time.